On June 28, 1839, the Spanish slave schooner Amistad set sail from Havana on a routine delivery of human cargo. On a moonless night, after four days at sea, the captive Africans rose up, killed the captain, and seized control of the ship. They attempted to sail to a safe port, but were captured by the U.S. Navy and thrown into jail in Connecticut. Their legal battle for freedom eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where their cause was argued by former president John Quincy Adams. In a landmark ruling, they were freed and eventually returned to Africa. The rebellion became one of the best-known events in the history of American slavery, celebrated as a triumph of the legal system in films and books, all reflecting the elite perspective of the judges, politicians, and abolitionists involved in the case. In this powerful and highly original account, Marcus Rediker reclaims the rebellion for its true proponents: the African rebels who risked death to stake a claim for freedom. Using newly discovered evidence, Rediker reframes the story to show how a small group of courageous men fought and won an epic battle against Spanish and American slaveholders and their governments. He reaches back to Africa to find the rebels’ roots, narrates their cataclysmic transatlantic journey, and unfolds a prison story of great drama and emotion. Featuring vividly drawn portraits of the Africans, their captors, and their abolitionist allies, he shows how the rebels captured the popular imagination and helped to inspire and build a movement that was part of a grand global struggle between slavery and freedom. The actions aboard the Amistad that July night and in the days and months that followed were pivotal events in American and Atlantic history, but not for the reasons we have always thought. The successful Amistad rebellion changed the very nature of the struggle against slavery. As a handful of self-emancipated Africans steered their own course to freedom, they opened a way for millions to follow. This stunning book honors their achievement.
This book is a historical narrative covering various periods in Sierra Leone’s history from the fifteenth century to the end of its civil war in 2002. It entails the history of Sierra Leone from its days as a slave harbor through to its founding as a home for free slaves, and toward its political independence and civil war. In 1462, the country was discovered by a Portuguese explorer, Pedro de Sintra, who named it Serra Lyoa (Lion Mountains). Sierra Leone later became a lucrative hub for the Transatlantic Slave Trade. At the end of slavery in England, Freetown was selected as a home for the Black Poor, free slaves in England after the Somerset ruling. The Black Poor were joined by the Nova Scotians, American slaves who supported or fought with the British during the American Revolution. The Maroons, rebellious slaves from Jamaica, arrived in 1800. The Recaptives, freed in enforcement of British antislavery laws, were also taken to Freetown. Freetown became a British colony in 1808 and Sierra Leone obtained political independence from Britain in 1961. The development of the country was derailed by the death of its first Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai, and thirty years after independence the country collapsed into a brutal civil war.
Through court documents, supporting details, and narrative language, students will discover how Sengbe Pieh, also known as Joseph Cinqué, staged a mutiny on a slave ship that not only gave him and his fellow captives freedom, but also spurred a court case that began an international debate over the morality and legality of slavery. Readers will gain a deeper understanding of the politics involved in the transatlantic slave trade, as well as a part of history that has shaped our society.
Remaking Black Visuality in the Early Nineteenth Century
Author: Jasmine Nichole Cobb
Publisher: NYU Press
In the decades leading up to the end of U.S. slavery, many free Blacks sat for daguerreotypes decorated in fine garments to document their self-possession. People pictured in these early photographs used portraiture to seize control over representation of the free Black body and reimagine Black visuality divorced from the cultural logics of slavery. In Picture Freedom, Jasmine Nichole Cobb analyzes the ways in which the circulation of various images prepared free Blacks and free Whites for the emancipation of formerly unfree people of African descent. She traces the emergence of Black freedom as both an idea and as an image during the early nineteenth century. Through an analysis of popular culture of the period—including amateur portraiture, racial caricatures, joke books, antislavery newspapers, abolitionist materials, runaway advertisements, ladies’ magazines, and scrapbooks, as well as scenic wallpaper—Cobb explores the earliest illustrations of free Blacks and reveals the complicated route through visual culture toward a vision of African American citizenship. Picture Freedom reveals how these depictions contributed to public understandings of nationhood, among both domestic eyes and the larger Atlantic world.
Deals extensively with the African American experience in the United States from the very beginning up to the present day with an in-depth examination of the history and contributions of a people who want to be recognized.